APPALACHIAN MOUNTAIN CIDERY

Appalachian Mountain Brewery CEO Sean Spiegelman appears before the Boone Board of Adjustment Dec. 4 to seek a permit modification for the company’s new cider operation.

Hard Mountain Cider LLC, a subsidiary of Boone-based Appalachian Mountain Brewery Inc., seeks to modify an existing special use permit with the addition of a winery as a permitted use for a parcel at 275 Daniel Boone Drive in Boone. The company is leasing 3,300 square feet of the property from Boone Lumber Co. Appalachian Mountain Brewery opened a brewery and tasting room on Boone Creek Drive in February 2013 — becoming the first brewery in Boone since Cottonwood Brewery left town in August 2000. Since then, it has become a publicly traded company, with the brewery, Farm 2 Flame food truck and now Hard Mountain Cider as subsidiaries. Hard Mountain Cider LLC filed articles of organization with the N.C. Secretary of State’s office in June.

Spiegelman said Hard Mountain Cider already holds a bonded winery permit from the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau to produce hard cider using North Carolina apples.

“We’re hoping to be in production by the end of the year, if not the beginning of 2015,” Spiegelman said.

HMC will operate four 10-barrel fermenters, five 10-barrel single wall brite tanks and one 20-barrel jacketed brite tank. Additional capacity is being explored for 2015 with plans to bottle and can for self-distribution, according to Spiegelman.

Spiegelman shared figures from Nielsen demonstrating “a stunning growth rate” in cider sales in recent years. U.S. store sales of hard cider increased by 89 percent in 2013, to $280,676,943, following a 90 percent jump in 2012, according to Nielsen.

Goals are to produce 400 barrels of cider in the facility’s first year, with a goal of 4,000 barrels in the second year, said Spiegelman. The cider operation will likely begin with three employees, he said.

HMC has been officially certified by the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project as a Western North Carolina grown and produced product. “We’ll be the only certified cider company in North Carolina,” Spiegelman said.

AMB brewmaster Nathan Kelischek recently returned from the U.K., where he spent time studying the cider making craft. Meanwhile, AMB’s beer operations continue to grow with the addition of a Cask Semi-Automated Canning System. Quality control and assurance testing are currently underway for canning of AMB’s Black Gold Porter, Honey Badger Blonde and Long Leaf IPA with plans to distribute cans throughout North Carolina. Spiegelman said AMB partnered with Next Generation Beer Company to handle distribution in the Asheville and Black Mountain area, while AMB is handling distribution in the High Country and Winston-Salem areas.

“The reality for AMB is packaging is a turning point in our history as a small scale brewery, Spiegelman said in a statement. “We will look back at 2014 as the year that put us on the craft beer map.”

AMB stock is traded on the OTC exchange under the ticker symbol HOPS. The company plans to provide audited financial information to investors and the public by the end of the year.

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Paul Halluch

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Jerry Sebastian

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Eitan Abramowitz